Recently, I’ve been shopping around for new car insurance when an agent offered me a discount if I installed the company’s telematics trackers. Car insurance telematics trackers are devices that collect data about your driving habits. This data is then used by insurance companies to calculate your insurance premiums. The type of data that is collected varies by insurer, but it typically includes the following:
- Speed: How fast you are driving.
- Acceleration and braking: How quickly you accelerate and brake.
- Turns: How often you make sharp turns.
- Distance driven: How far you drive each day or month.
- Time of day driven: When you drive most typically.
- Location: Where you drive.
Some telematics trackers also collect additional data, such as:
- Phone use: Whether you are using your phone while driving.
- Engine diagnostics: Information about your car’s engine performance.
- Crash detection: Whether you have been involved in a crash.
Insurance companies claim they use this data to assess your risk as a driver. Drivers they considered high risk may pay higher premiums than drivers who they considered to be low risk.
How Telematics Data is Used
Telematics data can be used in various ways by insurance companies. Some common uses include:
- Pricing: Setting insurance premiums based on driving habits.
- Discounts: Offering discounts to safe drivers.
- Coaching: Providing feedback to drivers to help them improve their driving habits.
- Crash prevention: Identifying and addressing risky driving behaviors.
These are only a few of the ways that we know data is used, even with privacy policies in place, car insurance companies often word terms of service in a way that allows for other data usage.
There are some privacy concerns surrounding the use of telematics data. Some people rightly worry that insurance companies may collect too much data about their driving habits. They also worry that this data could be used to discriminate against them.
Insurance companies are required to comply with privacy laws and regulations. They are also required to provide policyholders with information about how their data is being collected and used. But that does not mean they’re not doing shady things.
Benefits of Telematics Insurance
For the sake of playing devil’s advocate, there are some potential benefits to telematics insurance. These benefits include:
- Lower premiums: Safe drivers may pay lower premiums.
- Discounts: Safe drivers may qualify for discounts.
- Improved driving habits: Drivers may receive feedback that helps them improve their driving habits.
- Crash prevention: Telematics data can be used to identify and address risky driving behaviors.
Overall, telematics insurance can be a practical option for drivers who are looking for lower premiums and discounts. However, it is important to understand the privacy concerns before signing up for a telematics insurance program. It’s also critical to note that some drivers have reported an increase in their premiums since installing telematics trackers.
Here are some additional things to keep in mind about car insurance telematics trackers:
- Not all insurance companies offer telematics insurance.
- You may be able to opt out of telematics tracking.
- Telematics devices are not foolproof.
If you are considering telematics insurance, it is essential to talk to your insurance company to get additional information about their program. You should also ask about the privacy protections that are in place. I, personally, decline this “potential savings” in favor of privacy. It’s bad enough big tech tracks you, adding yet another tracker in my life is out of the question.